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Week of 10/11/10: Teaching & learning wrap-up

Free tutoring for Denver students Families in the Denver Public School may not be aware of a looming deadline – an important one that could provide their child free tutoring. Under the federal government’s Supplemental Education Services (SES) program, parents of children who are in the free and reduced price lunch program and who attend Title 1 schools can apply for free tutoring. But the deadline is this Friday. Forms have to postmarked and mailed to DPS by the end of the day. DPS sent informational packets to parents listing all the free tutoring providers and service options being offered along with a registration form. Parents can get help registering their child by calling a certified tutor of choice or by going to the SES website. Parents also can call about the SES application at the Free Tutoring hotline at 720-423-3421.

Some school reformers tout Florida’s approach Read this Denver Post story about how local organizations are jumping on momentum they see coming in the wake of the release of the documentary film Waiting for Superman. The nonprofit Colorado Succeeds, for instance, released “Proving the Possible,” a study pushing Colorado to adopt specific education reforms that Florida under Gov. Jeb Bush put in place over the past decade — giving grades to schools based on performance, holding back third-graders who can’t read and giving bonuses to teachers when students pass Advanced Placement tests. Before 1999, when Florida began enacting its reforms, the state was among the nation’s worst in fourth-grade NAEP reading. Scores in Florida have steadily climbed; Colorado’s have been relatively flat. Colorado’s average fourth-grade reading score for Latinos improved by 3 points over the past decade, while Florida’s scores improved by 25 points.

Support lacking for DPS reform plan Education News Colorado tackles the firestorm brewing over efforts to dramatically change six low-performing Far Northeast Denver schools. “A district plan to dramatically alter six low-performing schools in Far Northeast Denver appeared to win little community support during a packed and emotional meeting Tuesday that was interrupted by opponents chanting “Say no!” A majority of the nearly 200 people who stuck around to meeting’s end indicated by informal polling that they believe the proposal would provide worse choices for students living in Montbello and Green Valley Ranch and would lower student achievement.

Proposal details

  • Ford Elementary would be replaced by a campus of the Denver Center for International Studies magnet program.
  • Green Valley Elementary would undergo “turnaround,” meaning a new principal would be hired and teachers would have to reapply for their jobs.
  • McGlone Elementary also would undergo “turnaround,” though their recently-hired principal would stay.
  • Oakland Elementary would be replaced by a campus of the SOAR charter school.
  • Noel Middle School would be replaced by a 6-12 arts program with 100 students per grade; a KIPP charter school would be co-located at the school.
  • Montbello High School would be replaced by a 9-12 Collegiate Prep Academy with 150 to 200 students per grade. A Denver Center for International Studies 6-12 magnet program would open at the school as would a High Tech Early College.

Study: Colorado gets F in school funding Education News Colorado’s Nancy Mitchell also brings us this grim news about the state of school finances in Colorado. She writes that a national study released this week gives Colorado an “F” in education spending, finding the state has the fiscal capacity to do far more to fund its K-12 schools. Colorado also earned a “D” in distribution of education dollars, a measure which looks at whether states give more to schools based on concentrations of poverty. The report, titled “Is School Funding Fair? A National Report Card,” is based on financial data from 2005 to 2007 – or before the current recession. There is an addendum based on 2008 data recently released through the U.S. Census.

Men recruited to help in schools The National PTA and its Million Hours of Power campaign earned a spot in the Pepsi Refresh Project for October. PTA has the opportunity to receive $250,000 for this campaign with enough help from PTA leaders, members, and supporters. Million Hours of Power is a campaign to inspire men to collectively dedicate at least 1 million hours of service to the health, education, and well-being of America’s youth during this school year. Winning the Pepsi Refresh project will allow PTA to organize town hall meetings, create tool kits for PTAs, launch media campaigns, and promote a male volunteer of the year award. 
Just click here and sign up using an e-mail address (view this instructional video for more information about voting).

HuffPost Education launched Ariana Huffington weighs in on a new section of the Huffington Post devoted to all the buzz about public education. “With the White House pushing its Race to the Top initiative, and Davis Guggenheim’s Waiting for “Superman” sparking a national conversation about both the problems plaguing America’s schools and the innovative solutions being proposed and implemented all across the country, America is having an Education Moment.

This spring, as I was delving into America’s troubled education system for my book (nothing is quickening our slide into Third World status faster than our resounding failure to properly educate our children), Davis Guggenheim gave me an early look at his film. I was deeply moved and saw that by personalizing the crisis (and being willing to point fingers and name names), Superman was going to get people talking. And thinking. And, hopefully, working – finally – to reform the broken system.”

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